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Sunday, October 4, 2020

Queens Of The Wyrd Kickstarter Q&A with Timandra Whitecastle (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order Queens Of The Wyrd over HERE

Q) Welcome Timandra, so let’s begin with this straightaway. Why the kickstarter for Queens Of The Wyrd?


Joking. But no, a number of authors I’m friends with have run successful Kickstarters in the past (see the two above) and then Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter for the Way of Kings anniversary edition exploded and I thought, man. I’d love to do a hardcover bound volume like that for my Living Blade trilogy one day. But the costs are … frankly, horrific. I could never scrape together that amount on my own. But here was this crowdfunding platform where a lot of fantasy readers were getting their Collector’s editions and Hardcovers ... and I thought … maaaaaaybe I could try it?

Like I said, though, the costs of producing a gorgeous hardcover bound volume edition is just too high, so I ruled that out fairly quickly. However, my eye fell on Queens languishing in its stand-alone state, a bit of a neglected bookish child. So I thought: what if I did my first campaign for a Special Edition of Queens? Some of my readers really, really love Queens. And while I love the thematic cover it has, it looks a bit … too different sat next to my Living Blade books. As though it didn’t belong.

You know how those monthly YA fantasy book box subscriptions are so popular (they’re often so booked out, you get put on a waiting list!) and next to a bundle of bookish merch, they often have a book with a special cover for their subscribers? I love that. (I’d love to subscribe but yikes, those waiting lists, and yikes, the international shipping. Also, I have to drive to our local customs to pick up the packages every. single. month … ASK ME HOW I KNOW). Inspired by the obvious demand for gorgeous special editions, I knew if I was going to revamp Queens, I wanted to do a version with Tommy’s artwork. So I contacted him and asked if he’d be willing to try this crazy Kickstarter campaign with me. And he said yes.

Q) Your debut trilogy had gorgeous cover art by Tommy Arnold. So it’s very much understandable why you wish for him to come up with something magical. What is it about his art that made you select him only?

The first reason is quite simple. It seemed a no brainer to have the same artist I had for my first trilogy to also create something equally beautiful for Queens. In addition, Queens, for all its adventure and realm-hopping, is a very character focused book, and I know Tommy would be able to deliver in capturing the character. As to what it is about his art … hmmmm. Art is always something very subjective, isn’t it? There are paintings we are attracted to and can’t quite put our finger on why we find this piece beautiful and that one … not so much. And my taste in artwork might not be what a second person likes. But there’s something about Tommy’s artwork - his way of depicting the characters and their worlds - that makes me personally sit up and take note. It speaks to me. There’s a resonance there.
However, besides Tommy obviously being a skilled and sought after artist in the fantasy book world, I must say it’s not JUST his art that makes me want to work with him, and this is the second and main reason for wanting to work with Tommy. I said this once in an interview Ben Galley did with me on his YouTube channel: as a selfpublisher, I’m basically a one woman publishing house. I say this not just to highlight my freedom of making artistic choices that a more traditional publishing house or another selfpublisher wouldn’t make - although there is that element, of course. No, it’s the freedom of assembling a team of people around me with whom I just really enjoy working.

Imagine your day job, only you get to choose your colleagues. You can assemble a team of highly qualified people who are not only good at what they do, but with whom you just … gel.

THAT is why I selected Tommy. I trust that I can throw my words at him and he catches them, and says: I geddit. And then he comes back with something that rocks. If you can find the people who get what you do and enhance it - that’s the true beauty, right there.

Q) Besides Tommy’s gorgeous artwork what makes this edition so special? Will it include any other features/extras?

Well, that depends on if I manage to reach any stretchgoals (tease, tease) :) I have some cool things I’d love to include … we’ll see.

I like to think of this as a Remastered Version. Remember those Remastered CDs of your favorite bands? Essentially the same album, but in better sound quality and with a small artistic booklet included? That’s my goal with this.

I’m doing another polish right now and have enlisted help (Nicole Evans!) to make Queens shine even more.

Q) You previously have written extensively as to what led to the inception of this unique story. For those who haven’t read your glorious posts, what would you say to make them drool?

Gather all your major epic fantasy ingredients and blend with Norse mythological elements. Take a pinch of Kings of the Wyld, add a dash of Thor: Ragnarok, but then make it weird with an all female cast, themes around identity, parenting, and chapter headings with modern references. Set it to Heart’s cover version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song and voila! Enjoy while hot. 

Q) How goes your work on the sequel Reign Of The Midnight Sun? Any teasers you can provide about what the book will be about?

I’m inching forward in the rough draft. I’m at that stage where I’m just shoveling more sand into my sandbox every day. The grind stage. My least favorite.

I always wish I could just be done with it and have that first draft, because I am far more patient and more skilled at improving the sandcastle than I am at just shoveling sand.

Oh! It’s not exactly a sequel; more like another tale featuring some (but not all) of the other characters in the same world. I have a blurb-ish kind of thing, look …

Same old Shieldmaiden. New wyrd adventure

Solveig the Golden has had a very eventful life. By a quirk of fate, she carries Odin’s legendary spear. The bards sing of her glory past … which is annoying, since Sol isn’t planning for anything else but more glory in her future.

Hunkered down for a winter break at her childhood home - which is DEFINITELY NOT RETIREMENT - she answers the call to find two missing horses, alongside her daughter. But what was supposed to be a simple fetch quest cascades into ever more trouble for the aging Shieldmaiden: the spear has a mind of its own, the Wild Hunt comes after her, and from the depths of the sea, the Midgard serpent rises … It is time. The signs say Odin wants his spear back.

But Sol is loathe to simply hand it over. Instead, she is on the run from the Father of the Gods and his undead minions of the Wild Hunt. Her journey takes her across the winter seas, to the sanctuary of the Fimbulwinter, and even into Asgard itself. But there is no hiding from the Allfather.

Sol must evade Odin’s Hunt for the next twelve nights or else submit to his plans for her destiny. She faces a hard choice: oppose the Allfather, endanger her loved ones, and die ignominiously, her name forever tarnished ... or snatch that last shred of glory to become a Valkyrie, one of the nine undying Daughters of Odin?

Wyrd bith ful araed. Fate is inexorable.

My goal is to have this out by summer 2021...

Q) Besides Reign Of The Midnight Sun, are you working on anything else?

Soooooo many other things. 2020 has made me very scatterbrained, I’m afraid. I can’t seem to focus for long on one single project. I spent the first few months frozen like a deer in the headlights and with nearly no creativity. It’s been getting better, though. I’ve been getting better, so now I’m trying to roll with the punches and just … write all the things.

Q) In these stressful times, which books and authors have helped you retain your sanity? Are there any particular titles and writers that you would like to give a shout out to?

TW: Pratchett
. Always, always Terry Pratchett. I’ve been re-reading my collection heavily this year. My favorites are the Watch and the Witches books with Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, and Tiffany Aching being my favorite characters.

There’s this thing about Pratchett’s characters, especially Granny and Vimes, in which they’re just … very angry, very satirical, and yet … also very human people? People who look out for other people. People who are aware of their own biases. People who watch themselves, guard against their own darkness, their anger, and their hurt breaking out. People who can say: yes, these other people are stupid and hateful, doing very stupid and hateful things, but they’re human like me, so lemme see if I can do something to counter the stupidity and help them. Because that’s what people do.

It always feels weird to me when readers recommend Discworld books ‘because they’re funny.’ I mean, yes, they are. But they are so much more than just funny fantasy books.

Pratchett’s skill is that he writes these relatively short fantasy stories with puns and over-the-top caricatures and has characters who TALK LIKE THIS and then you turn a page and read a passage that puts a laser sharp focus on inherently flawed humans and our flawed systems and it’s just … masterful.

Q) Thank you very, very much for this lovely kickstarter Timandra. I’m already a backer and I hope this gets fully funded and then some. Any parting thoughts for your fans?

What has moved me the most about this whole Kickstarter campaign experience is how so many people have come rallying around this project. I did not expect it. I didn't dare expect it. I’m sorry for my trust issues. I will do you all better next time.

For now, though, thank you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

NOTE: Timandra Whitecastle pic courtesy of The Fantasy Inn. Granny Weatherwax and her cottage art courtesy of Discworld Emporium.



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